Monday, June 23, 2008

Ivan Salaverry Retires from Competition

by Mike Sloan for (

Middleweight standout Ivan Salaverry (Pictures) has hung up his gloves for good and will no longer compete as a professional fighter. The decision came almost a month following his last bout -- a first-round submission loss to Rousimar Palhares (Pictures) at UFC 84 "Ill Will" in Las Vegas. Salaverry retires with a 12-7 career record.

"Basically, I am just not prioritizing fighting anymore," Salaverry told "Even though I love fighting and I had a great run and I enjoyed it, I've transitioned to other things. There are quite a few variables as to why I stepped away and not just one. I'm older now; I'm 37 and not 27. I also have some injuries that are just not recovering, too. And within that scope, I have my school and my two kids. Fighting is not just a priority anymore."

Salaverry's decision to step out of the spotlight shouldn't come as a surprise. His fight with Palhares was the last under his contract with Zuffa, parent company to the UFC, and the Seattle resident hinted beforehand that his performance against Palhares would greatly influence his next move.

Salaverry lost in surprising fashion to the highly touted Brazilian prospect via a deftly executed armbar, though the Chilean-born Canadian cites additional considerations that came into play with his decision to call it a day.

"The loss (to Palhares) had a portion of my decision to retire but it wasn't the main reason why," he said. "The nature of this sport is that the new, younger guys come in and beat up the older guys. That's just how it is. I think that once you lose that focus to continue fighting, that hunger, it's time to let it go. I'm not going to be that 40-year-old-plus fighter struggling through small promotions and hanging on for dear life to those few remaining athletic years."

Salaverry had an eventful run inside the sport he cherishes, with a career that spanned nineteen fights in just under nine years. An expert submission specialist, Salaverry burst onto the UFC's scene with an upset TKO win over Andrei Semenov (Pictures) at UFC 37 in 2002. Semenov, imported out of Russian from the Red Devil team, was one of the hotter prospects at the time.

After absorbing a unanimous decision loss to Olympic wrestler Matt Lindland (Pictures) at UFC 39, Salaverry returned to the Octagon in 2004 with a memorable victory over former Miletich-bred fighter Tony Fryklund (Pictures), scoring with a rarely seen body lock submission at UFC 50. A win over Joe Riggs (Pictures) followed at UFC 52 in 2005, but Salaverry was unable to get past three of his next four opponents in the span of three years.

In that time, the affable Salaverry also became a father and opened his own gym in downtown Seattle.

"The last few years have definitely changed me with being a father and running my gym," said Salaverry. "It's given me an entirely different perspective as to how I look at MMA now. I know I can help other fighters because I know so much more now, but it's very hard to find out where or how to start. I will at least have more time now that I'm not going to be fighting and I think I can make a difference."

In his tenure as a competitor, Salaverry was a vocal proponent of fighter's rights, something he said he plans to continue in his new capacity within the sport. Salaverry is passionate about organizing a pension or investment program for fighters when they retire, so they'll have something to fall back on. He believes too many of the sport's elderly statesmen have fallen heavily into debt or can't treat their injuries properly because they can't afford it.

Salaverry also hopes to contribute as a coach guiding the sport's next generation.

"I hope my fans enjoyed everything and there will be a lot more coming," said Salaverry. "Not from me directly, but there are so many new young fighters coming up who are going to elevate the sport. I want to thank everybody for inviting me into their lives, their homes, their hearts, and allowing me to do what I did and hopefully MMA will continue to grow even more while I'm gone."

To find out more about Salaverry's gym in downtown Seattle, visit



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